Rant: Is the devil in the detail for the rescue of retail?

Is the devil in the detail for the rescue of retail? With an increasing number of shoppers moving away from the Leichhardt and Annandale area, retail sales expert Fiona Golinelli thinks so…

It seems that everything from online shopping to the GFC, high rents and the installation of parking meters is having an impact. But I’d say the issues facing people running shop front operations such as retailers, restaurants and cafes ought to look at their service and delivery standards before referencing outside influences.

You might agree that, for the most part, customer service in Australia could be a lot better.

I visited America recently and walked into a shop with no intention of buying anything and walked out with a shopping bag worth $300. The reason for this was the fantastic sales person who took interest in me and my needs – asked me the right questions and proceeded to show me some really nice things. Mostly, when I walk into a business in Australia, the level of service is just not the same. The staff don’t show the same level of enthusiasm or worse still, are totally disinterested.

Have you ever wondered why we don’t get fantastic service from many businesses in Australia? Given the increasing number of shoppers buying online, you would think that bricks and mortar stores would be doing everything in their power to make their customers happy.

I think that many businesses need to go back to the basics to make people want to shop in a real store.

Most people visit a store because they need help to make a purchase, they need to see the item, touch it, understand what it does and doesn’t do. They have questions and want these answered straight away.

Businesses should be going out of their way to help customers but unfortunately many don’t have this as their core value or they’re not hiring staff who care about helping people.

There are a lot of studies that show that nearly all customers who experience poor service won’t buy from that company again. On top of that, unhappy people spread the word to a lot more people.

I believe the key things to review are:

  • Store and product presentation
  • How you greet the customer
  • Staff presentation and activity levels
  • Personalising the sale to the customers needs
  • Product knowledge
  • Thanking the customer and inviting them to return

As a business owner, I understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day management but it’s important to step back and look at your business to identify the finer details that need attention.

Getting someone outside of your business to do a secret shopper audit and some customer surveys will provide invaluable information. From this, you can focus on refining those things that will take your business to the next level.

• Words: Fiona Golinelli from Retail Force.

Fiona runs training courses in sales and customer service as well as provides business advice to small and medium businesses. For more information visit www.retailforce.com.au.


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